Forget the loot box controversy, my biggest disappointment when it came to Star Wars Battlefront 2 was the lack of a dedicated VR mode. After the excellent, but rather brief Rogue One: VR Mission was included in the PS4 version of Star Wars Battlefront, I was fully expecting a bigger and better VR campaign in the sequel.
Sadly that wasn't to be, but where EA failed, an incredibly talented VR researcher and software developer from Utah University has picked up the slack. Project Stardust: X-Wing VR is the brainchild of Dylan Stout who spent his Autumn term in 2018 developing a VR experience for a study into Virtual Reality Sickness. Over time and with the help of a few friends, this experience has slowly morphed into a fully fledged, PC VR remake of the 1983 Star Wars arcade game, which follows Luke Skywalker in his X-Wing, Red 5 as he attempts to blow up the Death Star during the Battle of Yavin.
You can watch me play through the latest build of the game, which features dogfighting in space, turret clearing over the surface of the Death Star and of course the famous Trench Run in this week's Ian's VR Corner. Oh and I also create a rather bizarre bug that slams my X-Wing into reverse at a pivotal moment. Because of course I do.
For a fan-made game, Project Stardust is quite the achievement. Not only does it look really nice, in fact the graphics are better than a lot of VR games I've had to pay for, but also it's incredibly fun to play. The feel of the 1977 movie is captured especially well thanks to familiar lines from the film being incorporated into the experience and as I flew through the Death Star trench it was enough to give me goosebumps and a huge adrenaline surge.
At points it legitimately felt like a childhood dream come true, finally I was the hero in Star Wars, experiencing Luke's adventure through his eyes. At points the swell of the music combined the feel of flight and the thrill of the dogfighting had me giggling with joy. The fact that something that felt this authentic could be created by a team of fans with zero budget just goes to show the power and potential of VR as a way to expand on or recreate cinematic experiences.
There are a few faults of course. The aiming is a bit stiff compared to that of the Rogue One: VR Mission and it's often hard to see the enemy Tie-Fighters as they are easily obscured by the X-Wing's nose cone. The weapons are lacking, you can only fire lasers and there's no lock-on for easy target tracking. Transitions between each section are especially jarring too and, as you'll see in the video above, there are definitely a few bugs that need working out.
If you want to try out Project Stardust for yourself, you can download the latest version from Dylan's website, but according to his development roadmap, the final build is due to arrive around May 4th (geddit?). Along with HOTAS support, Dylan wants to add things like a Survival game mode, light speed jumping, Proton torpedos and a variety of different Imperial and Rebel ships.
Here's hoping Disney allows Dylan to continue with his project because the Force is strong with this one and I'd love it if this became the inspiration behind a fully fledged Star Wars VR game. I mean, just think how awesome would a VR reboot of the old Star Wars: X-Wing games be!
Keep up the great work, Dylan, Yoda man!
If you enjoyed this episode of Ian's VR Corner, you can catch up with my previous adventures over on YouTube in our VR playlist, where I've covered Valheim VR's motion controls mod, Doom 3 VR Edition and everything we know about PSVR 2 so far. You can also read our list of the best VR games.